Journey with Ernie

A dog lover shares the lessons of an overseas adoption.

Leigh Ann Burdett

When she adopts a golden retriever from Turkey, Yorktown high school teacher Heidi Speece finds her life turned upside down. Why Turkey? Unlike in the U.S., where dogs are like family, it’s not uncommon there for owners to abandon them after the novelty of pet ownership wears off. At a Washington, D.C. rescue organization, Speece meets the “fairy godmother,” who facilitates Ernie’s adoption. After months of delays and a surly customs officer—the two are united on Independence Day, and it’s sloppy dog kisses at first sight.

Speece’s memoir, My Journey With Ernie: Lessons from a Turkey Dog, captures the powerful bond that grows between them. “I hope this little book gives a great story about the amazing work the rescue organizations do and the countless lives these dogs have positively impacted,” says Speece, who is donating proceeds from her book to support animal rescue organizations. Like Marley and Me or The Art of Racing in the Rain, Speece’s story of Ernie inspires laughter and more than a few tears. HeidiHSpeece.com


This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review, www.jonimitchell.com, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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